While the street where they live may undergo a name change, Derry residents can be assured it won’t be without careful deliberation or without their input – and it won’t be in the near future.
Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director George Klauber recently took a few minutes to give an update on the E 9-1-1 street renaming process, which is gradually being implemented in all New Hampshire towns.
The State E 9-1-1 system is making recommendations on street names that are duplicates or similar and should be changed for public safety reasons. It is done on a systematic basis, “and we are in the queue,” Klauber said Monday. He asked three months ago and was told Derry would be addressed a year from then, so he’s anticipating some changes next spring.
First of all, Klauber said, E 9-1-1 personnel come in and map the town street by street, then enter the data into their system. “Based on the names and the numbers, it may take them three to four months to prepare a report,” he explained. Sometimes the streets have similar names, and in other cases the houses are misnumbered, with odd and even on the wrong sides. When the state finishes its report, it’s forwarded to the Town Council, he said, “and it’s up to them to make a determination.”
While the state can recommend a name change or a numbering update, the decision is in the Council’s hands, Klauber said, adding, “They (the state) can’t tell us what to do.”
Many towns form a committee, with residents, business representatives and public safety officials, to vet each proposed name change, he said.
While the state is expected to codify the duplicate names, Klauber said his department already has its own list, and he reeled off some of them. “Abbott Street, Abbott Court. Ash Street, Ash Street Extension, Ashleigh Drive. Chester Road, Old Chester Road, Back Chester Road.” Manchester Avenue, part of the “New Hampshire Town” streets in a residential neighborhood, and Manchester Road, one of the town’s largest commercial districts.
The issue is complicated, he said, because the 9-1-1 calls have to go through Concord first. While he and his staff know the difference between “Ash” and “Ashleigh,” it’s not something he can expect an out-of-towner to know, especially in an emergency situation.
In dubious situations, when the caller is confused, “We’ll send apparatus to both places.”
With cell phones that have GPS (Global Positioning System), the emergency responders have a better chance of getting the apparatus to the right place, he added.
But technology doesn’t always save the day, especially with out-of-towners. He recalled a recent incident when a call came in from a motorist with what turned out to be a minor motor vehicle accident. The caller said, “I know I’m on North Shore Road because I saw the sign.”
But Derry has two North Shore Roads, Klauber added: one on Big Island Pond and one on Beaver Lake.
“Fortunately,” he said, “the accident was not life-threatening.”
Klauber said his staff has identified 15 to 20 duplicate or similarly-named streets.